Poisonville is music about crime fiction. Based on Matt Rees’s books, greats like Raymond Chandler, and contemporary writers. Produced by Napoleon Blownapart at Big Pink Oboe Studio. Mostly Matt plays. Jasmine Schwartz sings some. The Talented David Brinn plays some keyboards.
Track notes from Matt:
1. The Collaborator: My first novel The Collaborator of Bethlehem takes place in the city of Jesus’s birth against the violent backdrop of the intifada. I wrote this song in the style of another kind of ghetto. With backing vocals from fellow crime novelist Jasmine Schwartz.
2. The Long Goodbye: I just had to write a song about the greatest novel by the greatest writer. Chandler’s masterwork is a creepier book than people think. Hence the mysterious sound.
3. Painted in Blood: My Caravaggio novel, “A Name in Blood,” is released in the UK in summer 2012. He was a rebellious, sensitive man who changed art. If Lou Reed had been around 400 years ago, he’d have been a pal of Caravaggio, the great Italian Baroque painter, so I gave this song his sound.
4. Nothing But the Waiting: Melissa Morris chases her cheating boyfriend to Rome, where she’s arrested for murder. She sets out to find the real killer, but discovers an unknown underside to Rome — and herself. Lyrics and singing by Jasmine, based on her novel FAKAKT.
5. Cover Up: Two well-meaning parents, Melissa and Angus, make one bad decision. Their mistake leads to lies, betrayal – and a tragedy that’s dinner table talk around the world. Australian crime writer Helen Fitzgerald did the lyrics about her book "Cry" and the steamy voice-over.
6. Poisonville: The corrupt town where Hammett’s great novel takes place is appropriately known as “Poisonville.” Co-written by David Brinn, who also plays accordion, I hope this sounds like hoboes playing in a Poisonville speakeasy.
7. Forgive Me, Manhattan: Thirty-something single New Yorker Melissa Morris has it all, until she’s accused of stealing millions of dollars and banished from the fashion industry. Melissa sets out to find herself in London, but finds a dead body. Lyrics by Jasmine about her novel FARBISSEN.
8. Sick Bacchus: My Caravaggio novel, “A Name in Blood,” is released in the UK in summer 2012. A favorite painting: “Sick Bacchus,” a self-portrait painted when C looked a bit peeky. The song captures the rawness of his life and the revolutionary style of his art.
9. Sick and Sweet: My third novel THE SAMARITAN’S SECRET is set in Nablus and hinges around the corruption of some Palestinian leaders encountered by Omar Yussef — and qanafi, a particularly cloying dessert that’s a specialty of the city. Hence this song’s title.
10. Agent O: In A Grave in Gaza, Omar Yussef comes to be known tongue-in-cheek as Agent O. This song reminds me of nights in the desert, with the mystery and danger of Gaza.
11. I Want to Explain to You: The main character in my historical mystery about the death of Mozart is the composer’s sister Nannerl. In Mozart’s Last Aria, she sings her brother’s aria “Vorrei Spiegarvi” (I Wish to Explain to You). I took that aria as inspiration for this song.
12. Dancing in the Dirt: My short story about Palestinian sleuth Omar Yussef called “Damascus Trance” is set in the midst of the civil war in Syria. This is a song about Omar’s reaction to those events, and also about my own writing and position in the Middle East.
13. Little Palestine: The Fourth Assassin, the latest Omar Yussef novel, takes place in a part of Brooklyn that’s becoming “Little Palestine.” It’s a tragic love story set against the raucous backdrop of New York. So I made this a dance track with Arabic lyrics.
14. Stagger Lee: A folk tale told at least as early as 1910 about a gambling murder. I love the 1928 recording by Mississippi John Hurt.
15. Heaven's Holding Up My Trousers (But Satan's Dragging Them Down): Poisonville doesn’t only do songs about crime fiction. This is for anybody who ever felt Satan wore the pants. A Country spoof, because today’s C&W is hot for Heaven, but the best C&W (like crime fiction) was always of the Devil’s party.